BGSU will begin welcoming its newest students to campus June 18 with the first day of Orientation and Registration, for transfer students. Close to 9,000 students and their families will arrive on campus over the next five weeks for their formal introduction to campus life. The experience is designed to provide incoming freshmen with the necessary tools and information for a smooth transition to college life, and to give families the resources and connections they will need.
Between June 19 and July 19, 16 two-day sessions will be held, each offering events and activities for students and parents separately and together.
Students will register for classes and meet with advisors to learn more about academic expectations and their departments and majors. During their stay here, they will also hear about opportunities for campus involvement and BGSU’s social life, and what it means to be part of the larger community.
Parents will receive information on such topics as financial aid, health services and their opportunities for involvement in the campus experience. Coffee and Connections is an informal get-together at which they can ask questions of faculty, staff and students, and share with one another.
“Though we organize and lead the program, it’s really a University initiative,” said Jodi Webb, associate dean of students. “We rely on so many people across campus to pull this off. This is a time when students and their families make positive connections with students, faculty and staff and begin to feel comfortable picturing themselves here. We’ve had great community support every year.”
Orientation leaders play key role
Incoming students will be guided through the program by their Orientation Leader, with whom they will continue to communicate throughout the first semester. The leaders do everything from guiding families to parking to leading discussions about how to be successful on campus. “They’re a huge part of our program,” Webb said.
“They are good ambassadors for the University,” she explained. “Every year we do a comprehensive evaluation at the end of Orientation and Registration, and students and their parents are always most positive about their interactions with the Orientation Leaders. We train them well, but information just has a different ring when you hear it from a student. They are often very reassuring to the parents.”
“It puts parents at ease a bit because they see us being successful and they think, ‘My child can be successful. People will be there to help them,’” said Aysen Ulupinar, a senior who is returning for a second year of being an Orientation Leader.
The diversity of the group is reassuring to students and families alike, concurred Marelya Mares, also a senior and a returning leader. “We’re all so different, and so they can see their child fitting in and being happy here.”
The 24 upperclassmen are carefully chosen in a competitive process from an average of 100 applicants. “It’s a highly sought-after student leader position on campus,” Webb said. “We really get the cream of the crop. They’re all very strong academically and they have very diverse interests, from academics to athletics. Many have been resident advisors or tour guides or the president of their sorority or fraternity. They bring a lot of their own campus experience to the program.”
“Aside from our involvement, our campus knowledge is really an important part of working with the students,” said Ulupinar. “If we don’t know the answer ourselves, we know where to find it, and we have each other to ask as well. Students can have confidence that information we give them is reliable.”
Of the 24 Orientation Leaders, up to six may be returnees, and during the weeklong training sessions before Orientation and Registration begins, “they provide insight and ideas as well as mentoring to the new Orientation Leaders,” Webb said. Being a leader last year was a peak experience, said Mares and Ulupinar. Both described it as the “best summer of my life.”
“It’s a chance to meet amazing people, like the faculty who lead the breakout sessions, and getting to know one another,” Mares said.
“It’s an opportunity for Orientation Leaders to tell parents and freshmen how awesome BG is every day,” Ulupinar said, adding jokingly, “and to wear orange every day.”
“It’s easy to tell them because of our own love for BG,” Mares added. “We don’t have to be like salesmen. It’s not fake; it’s how we really feel.”
The leaders work with the program again beginning with Fall Welcome, and stay in contact with their groups weekly through the semester. “They’re a familiar face to new students and a resource for asking questions, such as what should I bring for my residence hall room and what do you know about a particular class,” Webb said. “They send out weekly messages, such as reminders about upcoming dates and meeting with advisors, dealing with stress and test-taking tips, but a lot of it is informal communication with their group members. It’s a good way to extend the communication after the summer program ends.”